Eurovision success stories include the likes of Céline Dion, ABBA and Lulu, but life in the spotlight isn’t always guaranteed.
Despite performing live in front of millions of viewers at home, contestants often fade into the background once their time on the show is over.
Fifty-two countries have participated in the song contest since it started in 1956, and whilst this has led to global stardom for some, others fell short after their 15 minutes of fame.
As Essex hopeful Sam Ryder prepares to take to the stage this Saturday 14 May for the grand final, we take a look back at some of the competition’s previous winners.
From chart-topping hits to tragic splits, where are they now?
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Dressed in drag and looking absolutely fab (shoutout to Joanna Lumley for that one), Thomas Neuwirth represented Austria at Eurovision 2014.
He set the stage on fire with a performance of Rise Like A Phoenix, and became an overnight sensation.
Thomas, who appears on stage as Conchita Wurst, was asked to perform at the United Nations Office in Vienna in the same year.
She has since released an album, performed at the Sydney Opera House and been a judge on reality series Queen of Drags.
Unfortunately in 2018, Conchita announced she was HIV positive.
She said she had to go public because her ex-boyfriend threatened to tell the media about her infection with the HIV virus.
No, your eyes are not deceiving you, that is indeed an image of Céline Dion winning Eurovision way back when in 1988.
She beat out the Swiss by one point with her song Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi.
An undoubtable founding member of pop royalty, she has sold in excess of 200million albums worldwide.
That’s in addition to winning five Grammys and seven Billboard Music Awards.
In the early 90s she took a break from singing to spend time with her manager and husband René Angélil, then turned her attention to the movies.
The Canadian, 54, sung the legendary vocals of My Heart Will Go On which featured as the theme tune to epic American romance film, Titanic.
She is also famous for singing the theme to Disney’s film Beauty and the Beast and power ballad The Power Of Love.
She returned to Las Vegas in November 21 for an extended residency.
The Swedish singer’s spine-tingling performance of Euphoria sent her ‘sailing to infinity’ with her 2012 victory in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Her performance has had more than 49 million views on the competition’s official YouTube channel.
Since then, Lorine Zineb Nora Talhaoui, known professionally as Loreen has appeared in a Netflix cameo in comedy film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga and joined the Swedish TV show Så mycket bättre in 2020.
Most recently, she announced a partnership with Lexus Sweden in March 2022 for her new English single Neon Lights.
Niamh Kavanagh brought the trophy home to Ireland when she won Eurovision in 1993 after her performance of In Your Eyes.
Later, she was snapped up by music mogul Simon Cowell and released her last album Together Alone in 2011.
Sadly, life on stage changed when her musician husband Paul Megahey suffered a stroke in 2018.
Niamh was mid-performance alongside fellow Eurovision stars Paul Harrington, Charlie McGettigan and Linda Martin in 2018 when she found out.
She said: “I still had to go out and sing Waterloo and Making Your Mind Up after that… that’s the nature of what I do, you don’t always get to choose what you do in that moment.”
Fast forward to a pandemic-ridden 2020 and Niamh was forced to quit fame to work at Tesco alongside her teenage son.
Although, apparently they’ve both kept schtum about their mother-son relationship because he’s too embarrassed.
It’s not like your mum is a famous singer or anything, but ok. We get it.
Niamh joked: “My youngest boy and I got the same kind of job so we were in the same induction day in Tesco which was hilarious.”
Icon alert! Petite bombshell Lulu, then just 20 years old, brought a touch of glamor with her winning performance of ‘Boom Bang A Bang’ in 1969.
She was one of four joint winners of the Eurovision Song Contest – unheard of for its time but without any rule to cover such an outcome, the results stood firm.
The rules were changed thereafter.
Lulu sang the theme for James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974, and has worked alongside fellow stars including David Bowie, Bobby Womack, Cliff Richard and Adam & The Ants.
Now, age 73, she is still in full singing swing and toured alongside Take That on their Greatest Hits tour in 2019.
We can’t help but be impressed.
Perhaps one of the most memorable winners are Bobby G, Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and Jay Aston, better known as Bucks Fizz.
The group made up the minds of the voting public with their performance of Making Your Mind Up, claiming victory in 1981.
In a turnout for the books, Bucks Fizz went on to lead a successful UK career throughout the 80s.
They had three number one singles and became one of the top-selling groups of their time before tragedy struck in 1974.
After a gig in Newcastle, a horrifying coach crash involving their tour bus saw Mike succumb to a three-day coma after dying on the operating table.
He later developed epilepsy, short-term memory loss and lost 50% of his vision in both eyes, while Cheryl broke three vertebrae in her spine and Jay had back injuries.
Jay quit the band in 1985 and was sued for a breach of contract before being replaced by Shelley Preston.
Despite everything, Cheryl is grateful for her experience with the band.
Cheryl said: “Winning in 1981 with Making Your Mind Up completely changed my life and made me what I am now.
“Where I live, my children, my husband, my lifestyle, everything I am now is down to that song and that Velcro skirt.
I knew our lives had changed when filming stopped and we were surrounded by a sea of cameras.”
There’s not forgetting ABBA. The legendary Swedish pop group shot to fame after winning Eurovision in 1974 with their hit song Waterloo.
They followed their success with another win in 1991, 1999, 2012 and most recently 2015.
Honestly, they couldn’t escape from Eurovision even if they wanted to.
Together, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad went on to reach global acclaim with record sales estimated to be between 150 million to 385 million sold worldwide.
Let’s not forget the much-loved musical Mamma Mia! starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Amanda Seyfreid; and later, Lily James.
The rom-com was based on ABBAs most popular hits.
Britain’s Sandie Shaw made history in 1967 when she became the UK’s first ever Eurovision winner.
Somewhat shockingly, she openly disliked her song Puppet on a String, which she sang while barefoot.
“I hated it from the very first oompah to the final bang on the big bass drum,” she once said.
Development, she won by a near-record points total and went on to have three UK number one singles.
She started her own fashion label and hosted her own TV show before announcing she was retiring in 2013.
Eurovision 2022 kicks off on Tuesday 10 May and UK contestant Sam Ryder will be performing on Saturday 14 May with his song SPACE MAN.
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